Promised Land, Sugaree, Me & My Uncle, Bird Song, Black Throated Wind, Deal, El Paso, Tennessee Jed, Playin' In The Band, Big Railroad Blues, Cumberland Blues, Stella Blue, Jack Straw, Casey Jones
Greatest Story Ever Told, Ramble On Rose, Beat It On Down The Line, He's Gone-> Drums-> The Other One-> Black Peter-> The Other One-> Truckin', Mississippi Half Step, Sugar Magnolia, E: One More Saturday Night
January 18, 2018 Subject:
SIMPLY PUT: One of the most AMAZING performances of '72! NO DOUBT!
Where does one even begin when discussing August 12th, 1972? I guess I'll begin by stating that if I was granted the ability to fix the splices, reel changes, etc for ONE Grateful Dead show, I'd pick this show. I think that says a lot about how highly I cherish this performance.
Thankfully, the cuts, etc., are not too severe in this quite excellent soundboard. The final 2-3 lines of lyrics in "El Paso" are missing" and "Tennessee Jed" begins just as Jerry's massive second solo begins. So most of Jed is gone save a tremendous solo and the final chorus. An excellent version of "Jack Straw" has about a minute chopped out of the dead center of the song. Basically the "gotta go to Tulsa" verse through the solo and transition back into the final verse ("Jack Straw from Wichita cut his buddy down, dug for him a shallow grave and laid his body down", etc.) are sadly missing. As for Set 2, thankfully only the very first few seconds of "Greatest Story Ever Told" are cut, however the result is nearly negligible as the song simply begins as if Billy counted off 1,2,3,4 and the song began with "Moses come riding up on a quasar". It sounds absolutely great (considering technically the intro is cut). The cut in "The Other One" occurs near 9:08 (although the version uploaded by Jonathan Aizen on April 12, 2004 features an amazing job of smoothing out this spice and is highly recommended). The most brutal cut though, resides in what is obviously an otherworldly ferocious version of "Sugar Magnolia" and occurs at approx. 3:53 just as Jerry's solo (which leads to the pause before the "Sunshine Daydream portion) is beginning to wind down. We're catapulted right into the middle of a raging "Sunshine Daydream" with Billy kicking it up into double time tempo as Bob and Donna are going just nuts. An unfortunate cut...However, when one steps backs and looks at how much worse things could be and how much of this simply exceptional show exists we're quite lucky...
Why, because this show (front to back) is in my opinion maybe the quintessential example of what the super high energy, exploratory, post-Europe '72 summer shows in the US sounded like. It is not near perfect like Veneta, just six gigs later on 8/27 (after an excellent San Jose gig on 8/20 and the legendary 4-gig run at Berkeley Community Theatre from 8/21-8/25), but it exhibits just as much (if not more) firepower, desire to reach as far to the boundaries of sonic/psychic discovery as possible, and a general spirit of uninhibited, yet extremely tight playing. There is not a single even close to poorly performed tune on 8/12 in Sacramento...
Instead there is a smoking "Promised Land" opener, a beautiful, confident early arrangement styled "Sugaree" followed by a full-tilt "Me And My Uncle". The show's first real "highlight" is a very airy, psychedelic, long and awesome "Bird Song".
It is at this point that the listener begins to think, "maybe this is gonna be one of THOSE shows". This premonition is thoroughly realized as correct with the next tune "Black Throated Wind", which in my opinion easily reaches a Top 5 of '72 (and Top 25 of All-Time) level. It is delivered a bit loosely at first musically, with Weir's vocals however, perfectly emotive from the start. By the second verse the music and Weir's perfect, confident yet super-emotive delivery attain symbiosis, allowing for just the type of climax those who love this tune dream of, with Weir laying his soul on the line in his heartfelt cries of anguish, while Garcia solos beneath matching each of Weir's cries with a fast lead runs and Keith adding the exactly perfect piano licks to allow for full catharsis to be achieved.
Throughout this show Keith Godchaux plays his balls off delivering exactly what needs to be played as if he'd already heard a tape of the show and pre-planned exactly what would fit best. It is a testament to Godchaux's true genius and often overlooked but essential role in reaching the peaks this band was capable of.
Next up is a nice, tight "Deal" followed by a gorgeous "El Paso" of which sadly the final several lines are cut. It's quite obvious from the solo that we jump into (right at its start) that "Tennessee Jed" was likely a HOT one, though sadly the beginning 2/3 of the song are cut.
As the crowd cheers following Jed, the listener catches a second or two of an unusual wah-pedal tone which Jerry will use with mind-boggling effectiveness during the simply electrifying "Playing In The Band" which follows. Everyone is on board for this one with Keith delivering killer jazzy piano leads, Weir adding puzzle like rhythm structures, Lesh running wild with Jerry while Billy drives the jam like a madman. Kruetzmann's drumming throughout this show is very aggressive and for lack of a better term: kickass! This wonderful 13 minute "Playing In The Band" packs so much action into it that is is mesmerizing...
Next up it's a double shot of outrageously hot '72 Dead in the form of a raucous, yet very well played "Big Railroad Blues" and "Cumberland Blues". This show isn't just SMOKING at this point, it's ON FIRE! Which makes "Stella Blue" the perfect choice to follow "Cumberland Blues". The song ("S. Blue") is still in its early arrangement, however, it is delivered with such passion by Garcia (vocally and solo wise) and adorned with such beautiful piano from Keith that I feel it ranks as one of the strongest versions of the year. Simply must hear.
A strong, well-played, high spirited "Jack Straw" follows which sadly contains a cut right in the middle. However, it's quite enjoyable despite this fact and I never skip it. Set 1 concludes with a well played "Casey Jones". As the song nears its repetitive ending there's a second where it sounds like the band is tiring, however Kruetzmann just keeps going and out of nowhere Garcia/Weir/Lesh all get the strength from somewhere to transform the ending into a rousing, astonishing piece of rock and roll brillance, leaving the crowd in a frenzy. A very fun version and a great conclusion to an amazing Set 1.
The second set begins with a "take no prisoners" attitude in the form of a blistering (not unlike Veneta) version of "Greatest Story..." again featuring that unique wah tone Jerry unleashed in Set 1 during "Playing In The Band". Garcia actually goes a bit out of control on this wild version soloing madly for a full extra measure before the song's final chorus! Bob and Donna's vocals are spot on and again Keith lays down some simply awesome keys. A nice, solid "Ramble On Rose" follows which is only marred by a few out of tune vocals. However, by the "Goodbye Mama and Papa, goodbye Jack and Jill..." climax the song reaches the heights one hopes for, making this "Ramble On Rose" much more than simply average.
The heat ramps up with a wild, super-charged "Beat It On Down The Line" which features notable moments by everyone, from killer solos by Garcia and Godchaux to the very driving rhythm of Kruetzmann/Lesh/Weir to the highly energetic, well sung vocals of Bob and Donna. A wicked version by any measure...
Now we've reached the (truly) epic "jam" segment of this awesome show which begins with a no doubt about it, simply beautiful "He's Gone". Well sung and featuring a perfectly crafted solo by Jerry this version is just a treat and leads into a stormy barrage of "Drums" in which Kruetzmann lays down some seriously technical stuff before entering the beat which entices Phil to explode with the legendary bass run intro that signals the arrival of "The Other One". From the start this version of "TOO" is a no-fuckin' around version. It's fast, free-wheeling (almost like '69-'70) but with a thickness and sense of direction that is all vintage '72. Lesh goes bonkers while Garcia solos ferociously building to a cosmic plateau adorned by Keith's bizarre piano. This first jam settles into the arrival of the "Spanish Lady" with Weir's vocals extremely strong and the band very much in the telepathic groove. After verse one it's back to building back upwards towards the cosmos, entering the realms of "The Tiger" and dancing around a cacophony before an interestingly mellow (Godchaux/Lesh-led) exploration gives way to "Black Peter".
I am not going to mince words: this "Black Peter" is one for the gods! Jerry puts extra emotion into the vocals and accents some of the lines in a unique way. Everything is just perfect and it is performances like this that separate the Dead from any other band. Re-entering the other one we quickly build two the second verse and plateau of chaos before giving way for a blistering "Truckin'". The band simply explode (where is this energy coming from?) with Lesh running wild, Garcia just tearing things up as Kruetzmann drives the band HARD! The vocals are well-sung and the jam is intense to say the least making this a quintessential '72-style "Truckin'" (maybe not QUITE as insane as the version on 4/11 in Newcastle, England but damn close)! A perfect conclusion to the major jam portion of Set 2!
Though the set is far from over! We're treated to a very tight, early rendition of "Mississippi Half-Step" which is hugely enjoyable. It's obvious Garcia (hell, the whole band) are really digging this new tune and there's a great energy throughout! Next up is a red-hot "Sugar Magnolia" which despite having a substantial cut is still quite interesting. The "Sunshine Daydream" ending alone is essential as when Kruetzmann kicks the beat into the double-time the band is utterly flying and the song ends with an explosion of pure rock energy that's just fantastic!
But just in case there were any doubters in the crowd, the band finish Set 2 (and this truly EPIC show) with one of the wildest, most intense renditions of "One More Saturday Night" EVER...Bobby goes absolutely nuts, screaming his brains out while Donna tries to out-do him. Anyone who has ever said the Dead didn't know how to kick out the jams (i.e. play balls out hard rock 'n' roll) need only listen to this tune! It is the perfect finale to a show which I sincerely believe is worthy of official release (especially if any of the albeit few cuts can be dealt with) and is an absolute MUST HEAR show!
I don't know what the hell was in the Dead's water (I can guess) during July-September '72 but this amazing night in Sacramento on August 12th, 1972 is a perfect distillation of that amazing period. A truly special show which deserves to be heard by as many fans of Grateful Dead music as possible...
NOTE: For sound quality, this is probably my favorite version, however, as noted above the April 12, 2004-Jonathan Aizen version has the least disruptive "splice" in "The Other One", so you may wish to use that source for that portion of Set 2 and this amazing quality board for the rest. Regardless, if you've never heard this show just do whatever it takes to give it a listen! I give you my word you will NOT be disappointed...